Editor’s Note: Relevant financial details in blue, folks.
Coming into Day 2 of the Pro Tour Aether Revolt, the field has proven to be a mix of the expected and a smattering of attempts to get ahead of the metagame with outsider cards.
For reference from our Day 1 article yesterday, the metagame broke down as follows for the initial field.
Between Jeskai Copy Cat, Jeskai Marvel and 4 Color Copy Cat, the Saheeli Rai/Felidar Guardian combo was the archetype that the greatest number of pros showed up with at 25% of the field, despite the shell having a big red target on it’s back as the deck to beat heading into the tournament.
BG decks, in both Delirium and Winding Constrictor focused builds made up over 23% of the field, as the other archetype that had been performing well in the first couple of weeks of the format. LSV pointed out on coverage that a lot of pros had leaned in this direction because they expected the vehicles deck to be popular and felt that these decks were the trump.
Almost as many pros showed up with a Mardu Vehicle build that was tuned in an effort with a full 22% of the field trying to leverage a highly aggressive game plan to try and get in under the format defining Saheeli Rai infinite combo.
A few different control shells also made up a combined 10% of the field, with UR Dynavolt Tower, Grixis Control and Jeskai Control showing up in roughly equal proportions.
Dark horse decks that were whispered about before the tournament in chat rooms and forums did not show up in force, and have so far failed to make a major splash at the top tables.
Interestingly, many of the cards that have seen the biggest gains this weekend, including Inspiring Statuary, Paradox Engine, Tezzeret the Seeker and Tezzeret’s Simulacrum, all belong to a class of decks that ended up practically unplayed. As such, all of these spikes have a strong chance of back sliding heading into next week as speculators that went deep attempt to mitigate their losses by selling off.
Perhaps more important is the fate of the key mythics of the format: Verdurous Gearhulk, Torrential Gearhulk and Heart of Kiran. Each of these mythics are often played as three or four-ofs, are lynchpins in their respective archetypes and are very likely to see continued play in 2017 regardless of what happens with the potential Saheeli Rai combo banning later this month.
Verdurous Gearhulk is still hanging out in the $18 range, but if BG ends up dominating the Top 8, the stage could be set for the card to make a move into the $25-30 range as a dominant powerhouse aggro and mid-range card. Likewise, Torrential Gearhulk is the cornerstone of the blue based control decks in this format and at $23, offers slightly less upside than it’s green brethren in the quest to top $30.
The legendary Aether Revolt vehicle Heart of Kiran seems to be taking over the Smuggler’s Copter four-of slot in many aggro and mid-range decks and has edged up a few dollars, currently sitting at $15 or so. As a small set mythic, if four-of play continues this year, this card has a solid shot at $25+. On Magic Online the card is up over $10 overnight.
Kaladesh rare Scrapheap Scrounger, previously available for $1.50 is edging up toward $3-4 on the back of more frequent play in various aggro and vehicle/aggro builds. The card could possibly see play in Modern and Frontier, but is unlikely to yield significant gains from here on out.
Follow along with us as we track the final 5 rounds of constructed play before the cut to Top 8 and the establishment of the new Standard metagame.
Round 12 (6th Standard Round): Thierry Ramboa (BG Constrictor) vs. Lukas Blohan (Jeskai Control)
In the first game Lukas Blohan gets stuck on three lands and Ramboa is able to leverage some Winding Constrictor shenanigans into a quick win. Game 2 was all about Tireless Tracker and Fleetwheel Cruiser running over Blohan while backed up by Murder and Blossoming Defense. Match to Ramboa.
Round 12 (6th Standard Round): Martin Juza (Jund Energy Aggro) vs. Ben Rubin (BG Delirium)
This match pivots on a series of combat phases driven by the recent introduction of Verdurous Gearhulks to the battlefield, and Juza is able to leverage the heightened aggro pressure of his Jund Energy build to drive it home and move to 10-2.
Deck Tech #5: Willy Edel (Grixis Improvise)
Herald of Anguish">Herald of Anguish is a small set mythic at $8. Given the poor performance of the deck at the tournament, I wouldn’t be moving in on this card yet, but it’s worth keeping an eye on moving forward because there are definitely some interesting elements in play here.
Josh Utter-Layton has taken his fourth loss, knocking him out of Top 8 contention, and possibly relegating the cool Saheeli Marvel deck to a position out of the spotlight.
Round 13: Alexander Hayne (Mardu Vehicles) vs. Ken Yukuhiro (BG Constrictor)
Heart of Kiran powered up by Scrapheap Scrounger for Hayne puts away Game 1 in a hurry. In Game 2, Yukuhiro gains the benefit of highly skilled play, edging out a win from a position that seemed to have him beat and the match is evened up. In Game 3, Yukuhiro stabalizes at four life on a pair of Walking Ballistas, and a Verdurous Gearhulk and a Winding Constrictor facing a near empty board for Hayne names the Japanese player the victor and puts him at 10-3.
Round 13: Daniel Grafensteiner (4Color Saheeli) vs. Tatsuhiko Ohki (Mardu Vehicles)
We come into this match with the players at a game a piece and Ohki offering a commanding board position from his blisteringly fast aggro deck. In Game 3, Daniel stabilizes on three life, and starts going to work with Nissa, Vital Force and Felidar Guardian to scrap out a win without his combo.
Deck Tech #6: Deep-Fiend Saheeli (Gerry Thompson)
This version of the Saheeli deck tries to set up additional paths to finding the combo and delays the aggro decks with Elder Deep Fiend. Felidar Guardian has multiple ways of gaining value as you pursue the combo.
Round 14: Samuel Tharmaratnam (BR Aggro) vs. Lucas Esper Berthoud (Mardu Vehicles)
The life gain from Aethersphere Harvester ends up being the pivot point in Game 1, and Lucas takes the lead. In Game 2, Sam is force to mulligan twice and Lucas easily takes the match.
Day 2 Metagame Breakdown
Here are all the decks that showed up in the hands of at least four players, and their conversion rates (chance they made Day 2).
Perhaps more importantly, here are the decks that were played by at least eight players and managed a conversion percentage above the field average of 62.6%.
Note that the conversion rate for the Saheeli Rai combo decks that weren’t also running Aetherworks Marvel was just 41%. The Marvel version on the other hand, in the hands of Josh Utter-Leyton and company, converted at an impressive 75%. With conversion rates between 68% and 76% both Mardu Vehicles and the GB variants look to be proving out as fantastic meta calls for the weekend. Also of note is the fantastic 82% conversion rate of the GW Tokens decks, an archetype that has been largely absent on coverage but is putting up results second only to RB Aggro, which placed 8 of 9 players into Day 2 on the back of ultra fast early game pressure. Jeskai Control decks lacking the Saheeli combo have advanced the theory that forcing your opponents to respect the combo potential while working a different angle can pay off well. Overall, the field looks to be diverse and healthy so far and unless upcoming tournaments this month suggest otherwise, the Copy Cat combo may end up safe from a ban for now.
On camera, LSV suggests that Ishkanah, the Grafwidow may be in demand based on the shift in the metagame, with so many flying vehicle threats and low power attackers flooding the tables.
Round 14 Standings
Round 15: Jeremy Dezani (Mardu Vehicles) vs. Craig Chapman (Copy Cat Control)
In Game 1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Heart of Kiran go to work for Dezani and Chapman never really gets a chance to set up shop. Game 1, Dezani. Dezani also cleans up Game 2 pretty quickly and he now has an outsider shot at Top 8.
Deck Tech #8: Jund Energy Aggro (Martin Juza)
Martin outlined that he was the only member of his team that decided to go with this innovative aggro brew that capitalizes on synergies between cards like Greenbelt Rampager and Longtusk Cub. Three copies of Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Heart of Kiran are again relevant here.
Round 16: Lucas Esper Berthoud (Mardu Vehicles) vs. Dimitris Triantafillou (BG Constrictor)
This match is a win and in for Top8. In Game 1 a key Grasp of Darkness from Dimitris on Heart of Kiran from Lucas lets him stabilize for long enough to capitalize on a blundered Needle Spires attack from his opponent. Game 1 for the Greek player. In the second game Lucas manages to redeem the misplay on the back of strong card advantage from a protected, Chandra, Torch of Defiance.
On the back table PVD beats Ben Rubin in two games to set up his eleventh lifetime Top 8!
Our Top 8 is starting to take shape. So far we know the following players/deck that are a lock:
- Marcio Carvelho (Mardu Vehicles)
- Lucas Esper Berthoud (Mardu Vehicles)
- Yuchen Liu (Mardu Vehicles)
- Donald Smith (Mardu Vehicles)
- Jan Kasandr (BG Delirium)
- Martin Juza (Jund Energy Aggro)
- Eduardo Sajgalik (Mardu Vehicles)
- PVD (Mardu Vehicles)
That puts our deck count at six (!) copies of Mardu Vehicles, a BG Delirium deck and a singular Jund Energy Aggro build that shares several cards with the other two archetypes.
This Top 8 is also notable in that the very aggressive metagame choices aimed at batting the Saheeli Rai combo decks and coming in under the control builds have paid off in a major, major way. There are zero combo decks in the Top 8 and zero copies of Torrential Gearhulk, which likes chills the price appreciation on that card for the short term. Saheeli Rai is now in a weird spot where the deck likely isn’t good enough to force a banning of Felidar Guardian this month, and in fact, might not be good enough to set up the price appreciation that might have been on deck if the deck had put a couple of updated versions into the Top 8. Either way, I’m glad to have been a seller of the card during the initial spike as the future is murky on the boogeyman of the format.
The diversity of resilient threats and excellent answers in Mardu colors has set up the deck as the must answer shell coming out of the tournament, a result backed up by the archetypes excellent conversion rate this weekend in to the second day of play. Four copies each of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Heart of Kiran and Scrapheap Scrounger mark those cards as the potential gainers from this deck. The fact that the GB and Jund Energy Aggro decks are also running both the 4/4 vehicle and the recursive construct threat means that few other cards in the format can claim an equivalent demand profile heading into the rest of the month. Seven of the eight decks in the Top 8 are running Heart of Kiran. Expect the spike to take place tonight.
Walking Ballista is also a card to watch as it is good at answering X/1s and holding down Saheeli Rai, though there can’t be much meat left on the bone of a rare that hasn’t hit peak supply yet.
Join us tomorrow for our coverage of the Top 8!
James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.